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Morning 9: Rory talks truth | Rose’s big announcement | PXG Gen2 launch

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 2, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, and a belated Happy New Year…should be a good one for golf!
1. “More money, more ranking points”
Rory McIlroy, only once a winner on the PGA Tour in the past two years, enters the 2019 season looking to make some changes. While he walked back suggestions he’s cutting back his European Tour schedule, the Ulsterman seemed to…walk them forward ahead of the Tournament of Champions.
Per Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski, McIlroy said.
  • “You go to Europe and get paid a nice amount of money to start the year…I want to switch it up. I’ve done it for 11 years so I may as well do something a little different.”
  • “It’s so one-sided,…Look, you can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points. I think as well with the world ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it’s all about world ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”
  • “I want to play against the best players in the world. I get a buzz from that. I’d much rather go down the stretch against Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson. I’m not putting anyone down in Europe, but the depths of fields and everything is just that bit better over here. It’s what everyone is striving for. It’s why [Italy’s] Francesco Molinari is here this week. It’s where it’s heading.
  • “The ultimate goal is here,” McIlroy added. “The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the truth. The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the way it is. It’s tough. I still want to support the European Tour, and I talk about this loyalty thing with Europe. … [But] it’s not as though I’m just starting out and jumping ship. I’ve done my time. I’ve done everything I feel like I need to do to say OK, I’m going to make my own decisions and do what I want.”
2. New from PXG
Kicking off equipment launches for 2019, PXG announced the second generation of its 0811 drivers, woods, and hybrids.
The selling point: Hot Rod Technology in the clubs’ crowns.
  • In true Bob Parsons fashion, the second generation driver offering from Scottsdale-based PXG draws inspiration from something very fast, very custom, and VERY USA: the American hot rod. 2019 will mark the year that PXG truly has a driver offering that lives up to the performance of its irons. That’s right, PXG is a legitimate driver company now with a product that will hold its own.
  • The 0811 X and XF Gen2’s carbon fiber crown has the aggressive hood styling of a 500 horsepower Shelby Mustang. The sleek new multi-level crown not only packs a new-and-improved aerodynamic design but also provides structural support to the face where it’s most needed, according to the company. The resulting reduction in energy loss translates to a distance boost with enhanced control, as well as reduced drag.
  • The Hot Rod Technology-laden crown also acts as an alignment aid and reduces glare, says PXG, and it dampens vibration for what the company describes as “a pleasant and unique feel and sound, reminiscent of a persimmon driver head.”
3. In-round interviews?
It worked well in Europe…
Doug Ferguson writes…“Such interviews are not likely to occur in the final round, and PGA Tour officials are sensitive to the timing of the interviews. A quick spot with Dustin Johnson after his 432-yard drive came within 6 inches of the cup last year at Kapalua might be ideal. Right after a three-putt bogey from 10 feet might not be.”
  • “Marc Leishman has experience doing on-course interviews when he plays in Australia, and he didn’t mind the concept.”
  • ”If they do end up having them, my advice would be to have someone who has played on Tour to do it, to be a little sensitive of the questions and the timing of the interview,” Leishman said. ”But anything where you can be more accessible to the viewers is a good thing. We want to bring more people to the game. It might be a way to give more insight to what we’re thinking at the time.'”
  • “Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, isn’t likely to be among the candidates…”I’ve been approached in Europe because they’ve done it for a couple of years,” McIlroy said. ”And I’ve said, ‘No,’ every single time.”
4. Rose to Honma
While the news broke yesterday, the Morning 9 was enjoying its pork and sauerkraut, so we’re presenting it here today. In a significant coup for the Japanese luxury equipment company, Justin Rose has signed a multi-year deal with Honma.
  • One of the worst-kept secrets in the golf equipment world is no longer secret: world No. 2 Justin Rose is officially a Honma staffer.
  • The Japanese premium equipment company announced the signing in a press release today.
  • “I’m extremely excited to be joining Honma,” said Rose, in the press release. “Coming off one of my best years professionally, I wanted to make it a point to get better. I believe Honma equipment and the legendary Honma craftsmanship can help make me better.”
  • Rose had previously played a full TaylorMade bag for the past 20 years.
  • Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King joined Honma as a strategic advisor late in 2018. Many expected he’d be tasked with helping the brand make a larger splash in the European and American markets, the financial resources of new company owner, Chinese billionaire Liu Jianguo, behind him.
  • Honma has never had a male player ranked inside the top 150 under contract. On the women’s side, however, top players So Yeon Ryu and Shan-Shan Feng play the company’s wares.
5. Not if, but how many(?)
A bold prognostication! Adam Woodward at USA Today sees multiple majors in El Tigre’s future.
  • “But this is golf, a sport that continually proves the old adage that age is just, in fact, a number….Thirty six players have won majors at 40 or older, including: Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Vijay Singh, Gary Player, Darren Clarke, Payne Stewart, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.”
  • “Despite his advancing age, Woods will have a great shot at winning his 15th major title this season. Seven of his 80 PGA Tour wins – six of his 14 major titles – came at courses hosting a major this year.”
  • “Barring major injury or a total collapse, Woods may also have a legitimate chance to break Boros’ record. Woods, whose last major title was at the 2008 U.S. Open, finished runner-up at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. He’ll be 49 when the event returns to Oakmont in 2025. Woods also could tie the record at the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the course where he also finished runner-up in 2005.”
6. Further bold predictions!
These from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…
  • “A player(s) will violate the new rules on green-reading materials. Like nearly all rule violations on the PGA Tour these will be unintentional violations. And considering how the new regulation is written, a breach is inevitable. Consider that the scale and size of green-reading materials are now regulated, but also a player is allowed to use a book that would be in violation of the policy from the tee or fairway, just not the green. An inadvertent miscue is inevitable.”
  • “Tour golf will become a popular (and creative) platform for sports betting. With the introduction of federal gaming guidelines, expect to see a bump in interest in the Tour as gamblers begin to realize how much potential action is available during a round. As one Tour official recently explained, other sports feature a single ball and a single bat at any given moment. In golf there are potentially 78 balls and bats in motion at one time.”
  • “Cameron Champ will shatter last year’s long-drive record. And it will probably happen this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The rookie has already proven himself to be a singular talent who is capable of much more than prodigious drives, but last season’s mark of 433 yards set by Michael Block at the U.S. Open seems well within reach for Champ. “Because of his speed he can hit these shots that really aren’t efficient in flight that carry 300 yards,” said Champ’s swing coach Sean Foley.”
7. Bryson is ready
Dave Shedloski writes of Bryson’s conviction that he’ll leave the flag in on all putts at Kapalua…”His final order of business was on the practice putting green, where he was further testing the viability of leaving the flagstick in for even the shortest putts. Significant changes to the Rules of Golf take effect today, including the rule that previously made it a penalty when a ball played from the green struck the flagstick. No more.”
  • “After the testing we’ve seen, and what we just did out there now, absolutely, I’m going to leave it in. I’m going to do it until I can see that it messes me up,” the erudite youngster averred. “For the most part, we’ve seen it to be a benefit and not a detriment. That’s from anywhere.”
  • “So, just to throw out a number, he would leave it in for a three-footer?…”Heck, potentially a one-footer. From anywhere,” he clarifies. “How many times do you just walk up to your ball and you knock it against the pin and it goes in? You’re at your local club just out there beating it around. Boink, dink, it goes in. Every time. Right?”
8. Na to play Callaway Clubs
Golfweek’s David Dusek…”Kevin Na, who won last season’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, is in Hawaii preparing for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. On New Years Eve, a few hours before the clock struck 12 on the East Coast, he took to Instagram and made a major equipment announcement.”
“Although it is tough to tell from the photo, it appears Na already switched to Callaway’s Apex Pro irons, and there were several photos of him playing last season with a Callaway Epic driver, including at the Tour Championship at East Lake.”
He’ll continue to play Titleist’s ProV1x ball.
9. Rose’s new weapons
Mentioned earlier, Justin Rose will be playing 10 Honma clubs in 2019. He posted this shot of his “Rose Proto” T//World irons to Instagram. A fine instrument!
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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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